Results tagged ‘ Cesar Cabral ’
The highs and lows of the Hot Stove League, thus far…
For Yankees fans, the off-season started nicely. After early speculation that manager Joe Girardi might jump to the Chicago Cubs, he re-signed a long-term deal with the Yankees and expressed it was his desire to remain in New York. All good.
Then, Derek Jeter quickly signed a one year deal with negotiations that where smooth, quick and efficient (unlike the prior Jeter negotiations). It remains to be seen if we’ll get the Jeter of 2012 or the injured, aging 2013 model, but there’s no question that Jeter must finish his career in pinstripes. I don’t think Derek would want to go anywhere else at this point anyway, but still, he is the face of the franchise and he’ll forever be remembered as one of its legends. In the distant future, when the old greats from the 50’s Dynasty era are gone (Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, among others), it will be guys like Jeter that maintain the honor and tradition in baseball’s most storied franchise.
The Yankees struck fast in signing free agent catcher Brian McCann after last year’s parade of backups in the starting role. It gives the team its first legitimate starter at the position since Russell Martin left, and the best offensive bat at the position since Jorge Posada retired. This is a move that places backup catchers Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy, and Austin Romine in a better position to succeed. At first pass, I expect Cervelli to take the backup job in spring training but the other two are capable. On the days that McCann slides to DH, the catching position will be capable hands.
Next came a big surprise. I honestly did not see the Yankees signing centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. While I have been a fan of Ellsbury’s work, it didn’t seem to be a great need for the team. Brett Gardner has been an effective centerfielder, and has the speed to burn. Still, Ellsbury’s signing upgrades the position and allows the Yankees to slide Gardner to left where he a defensive upgrade over Alfonso Soriano. The concern here is that by making Soriano the full-time DH, it does limit the DH opportunities for Derek Jeter and Brian McCann. Soriano’s bat is still very valuable, and it’s much needed in the lineup.
Then came the bittersweet day of Friday, December 6th. The night before, there had been reports that second baseman Robinson Cano had flown to Seattle, but in the morning, the early reports indicated that talks had stalled or perhaps even ended. It gave a brief ray of hope that he’d come back to the Yankees, but those hopes were soon dissolved when it was reported Cano had agreed to a 10-year $240 million deal with the Mariners. While it’s tough to lose a great player, perhaps the team’s best, it is simply too hard to justify those numbers. I have enjoyed the early 30’s version of Cano at second, but in his late 30’s and early 40’s, the prospect doesn’t look too promising at $24 million per year. That’s a huge chunk of any team’s overall payroll. I think of when Chase Utley was the premier second baseman, but now, with injuries, he has become a shell of what he once was. What happens if Cano does not age well? I guess I am not a gambling man and would prefer that the M’s take that bet. $240 million can be better spent by spreading it over multiple positions rather than locking it into only one.
This is where I find Robinson Cano to be extremely selfish. You can’t begrudge anyone from wanting as much money as they can get, but this is a team game and every team has a budget…even the Yankees. If it were me, I would have taken the Yankees offer of 7 years at $175 million because the average annual salary was stronger and I’d know that the team would be more flexible in other areas by not being locked into so many years. For those additional three years, it would be up to me to perform and if so, there would be a reward. It also would have kept the Yankee legacy intact and ensured a potential place among the team’s legends. But now, Cano is just another player who took the money and ran. He proved that money is more valuable than wins, and money is more important than helping build a strong supporting cast of quality players. That doesn’t mean Seattle doesn’t have quality players, they do, but they are a long way from contending. It is very possible that when they are ready to contend, Cano has started his career regression due to age that’s inevitable for everyone.
Cano has carried the “lazy” rap for years. While he is an exciting player at times, it was frustrating when he didn’t hustle. I think of someone like Dustin Pedroia, whose motor is always running. He creates opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be there because he is alert and proactive. He seizes the opportunities and takes advantage of them. That’s what winning ball players do. Cano is not that guy. I have never thought of him as a team player, and I didn’t view him as a player who helped raise the performance level of those around him. Rest assured the Yankees will miss his offensive production at the position. At this point, I have no idea who will be the second baseman in 2014. Kelly Johnson seems better suited to help replace Alex Rodriguez at third base, in a platoon situation. Omar Infante signed a four year deal with the Kansas City Royals, and Brandon Phillips is starting the downward slide that comes with age. David Adams, a young player who had the talent but couldn’t show it at the major league level during brief auditions, was non-tendered and is now a Cleveland Indian. It looks as though the Yankees will fill second base with a bargain basement fill-in, much like they did last year with first and third bases. I wish the organization was better stocked with up and coming second base talent, but that does not appear to be the case. I personally thought Infante would have been the best short-term option, but the Yankees allowed them to get beat by the Royals in signing the player. You know it’s an odd year when the Yankees get beat in free agency by both the Royals and the Mariners.
But enough about Cano, he is gone and so is his Yankees legacy.
Around the same time as the news had broken about the former second baseman signing with Seattle, it was reported that starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda had signed a new one year deal with the team. This was very good news to hear. Kuroda is much needed, and I am grateful that he chose to delay his return to Japan by a year or head back to his home in Southern California. So, Cashman has filled 200 of the 400 innings he previously stated were needed this off-season.
After the tumultuous events of the day, news broke on the evening of December 6th that the Yankees had signed outfielder Carlos Beltran. At 36, he is no longer the player he once was, but he is a “gamer” or as George Steinbrenner would say, a warrior. Even an aging Beltran is an upgrade over an even older Ichiro Suzuki or the outfielder still primarily funded by the Los Angeles Angels, Vernon Wells.
But after the three free agent signings, the news has mostly been about departures. Phil Hughes was the first to depart, signing a three year deal with the Minnesota Twins. It was probably a good move for Hughes. Minnesota will be less pressurized and he should have the opportunity to flourish, much like Carl Pavano was able to resurrect his career in Minneapolis after leaving New York. I certainly did not expect the Yankees to re-sign Hughes after the season he had last year, but I thought he’d go to Southern California and saw the San Diego Padres as a good fit. Nevertheless, Minneapolis is a fun city and it’s a good ballpark.
A couple of other notable defections occurred in the bullpen, where Joba Chamberlain signed a one year deal with the Detroit Tigers and Boone Logan went for three years with the Colorado Rockies. Of the two, it is Logan that I really hated to see leave. He was a trusted left-handed reliever, but it really didn’t seem like the team made much of an effort to retain his services. They obviously had other priorities, but I suppose the Yankees are hopeful that a less expensive options like Cesar Cabral will step up to fill Boone’s role. It was a foregone conclusion that Joba had thrown his last pitch for the Yankees. But admittedly, I was surprised he went to Detroit. There are worse things to do than to go to a team that is probably the best one in the American League right now, but I thought that Joba would go to the Kansas City Royals since it is closer to his hometown roots. The one year deal does give him an opportunity to try and restore the promise he once had with the Yankees. Plus, if he wins a World Series, it will help give his career a further boost.
The Yankees also lost last year’s starting catcher when they traded Chris Stewart to the Pittsburgh Pirates. This move was a given after the McCann signing combined with the surplus of backup catchers.
For as crazy as December started for the Yankees, the week of the baseball winter meetings was extremely quiet. The Yankees still have much work to do. On paper, after consideration of all plusses and minuses, they are not noticeably better than last year’s 85 win team. They still need a quality starting pitcher, a second baseman, and bullpen help. Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him between now and spring training.
I honestly do not know where the Yankees will go from here. I’d like to see the free agent signing of a pitcher like Matt Garza, but so far, the Yankees have not been one of the team’s linked to the pitcher. Same with Bronson Arroyo, who is certainly capable of eating a large number of innings as a #4 starter. For second base, the latest reports have the Yankees interested in Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs but I have no idea what he would cost in terms of talent in a trade. I will feel much better about the 2014 Yankees once the additional starting pitcher and second baseman are in the fold, but at least it is reassuring to know that Hal Steinbrenner wants to win as much as the rest of us do.
Locked and not loaded?…
Worst case scenario seems to be playing out with news that Michael Pineda’s shoulder is cause for concern. Everybody has wondered who would be the odd man out of the rotation, given the strong spring performances by Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. There’s been talk of moving either of those two or Ivan Nova to the bullpen, but all things considered, that’s not an ideal spot for any of the three. I was hopeful that Yankees could find some trade value in Garcia to move him and make room for the others, given that Andy Pettitte looms on the not-so-distant future. Yesterday, there were indications that Michael Pineda needed to have a strong performance to nail down his much anticipated spot in the rotation. I didn’t watch the game, but I checked the box score in later innings with the score tied 7-7 only to see that Pineda had given up 6 runs in the first two innings. Not exactly a strong performance. Then, this morning, there were reports about Pineda’s shoulder. He’ll be going for a MRI, but this could get worse, much worse.
Hopefully, the problems with the shoulder are minor and Pineda can recuperate with some rest.
Even though the Yankees ultimately won the exhibition match-up with the Phillies, it was a very costly game with the possible injury to Pineda, as well as reliever Cesar Cabral (elbow). Both injuries make Joe Girardi’s decisions for the starting rotation and second lefty in the pen much easier. At this point, it would appear that the rotation will be CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia. There could be some shuffling of the last three, dependent upon who’s ready when based on how they’re currently lined up with their respective pitching schedules. If Cabral is out, it opens the door for Clay Rapada to take the second lefty role behind top lefty Boone Logan.
I prefer striking out the opposing team…
I didn’t fully understand the move with Russell Branyan. He was released from his minor league deal, and then re-signed to a new minor league deal at a savings of $100,000 to the Yankees. The money would seem inconsequential, so I wonder if there had been an opt-out clause or something else in the contract that would have been triggered causing the need for the re-negotiation. It’s not exactly like I’m expecting much from Branyan at this point of his career. It’s hard to get expected about high strikeout guys like Branyan, but of course, the Yankees added to the fodder with the signing of Jack Cust. I do not see either as a viable alternative to what the Yankees already have.
Is bashing the Yankees the only way to be beloved in New England…
Enough about the recent tie between the Yankees and Red Sox recently. I don’t blame Joe Girardi for his decision not to play extra innings in their game with the Red Sox, resulting in a tie. After the game, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine ripped the Yankees, saying that it cost a minor league pitcher, Clayton Mortensen, his opportunity to impress in an effort to make the team. Subsequently, Mortensen has been making disparaging remarks about Girardi and the Yankees. Seriously? The guy’s career is going to be determined by one inning of pitching in a meaningless exhibition game? Yeah, it was the Yankees, but guys don’t make major league rosters just because they play the Yankees well. I think the other teams in the league have something to say about it. If Valentine felt that Mortensen had a legitimate shot to make the roster, then he would create the opportunity in the spring schedule to showcase Mortensen. His only opportunity to impress the Red Sox wasn’t that meaningless game with the Yankees. For so much ink to be devoted to the unhappiness of Valentine and Mortensen is absolutely ridiculous.
There’s room in the Bronx for Maxwell…
I am hopeful the Yankees find room on the roster for outfielder Justin Maxwell. Hopefully, with fourth outfielder Andruw Jones slated to share some DU time with Raul Ibanez, there will be the need to carry a fifth outfielder. I like Maxwell’s athleticism in the outfield, and he is a good role player.
Have Bat, Will Travel…
Speaking of Ibanez, he is finally starting to hit, but I still can’t get his slow start with the Phillies last year out of mind. I know that he had decent numbers by the end of the year, but I don’t like streaky players and at 40, Ibanez is not going to improve with age. It’s too bad that Jorge Posada was not able to more fully embrace the DH role. If he had, he probably would not have been put in the position of having to retire in the off-season. But that’s water under the bridge, so I hope the Yankees find a suitable and consistent bat at DH as early in the season as possible. If Ibanez surprises me, and is the guy, so be it. Just be prepared to bring the bat every day, that’s all I ask.
Good luck to Joba Chamberlain on his recovery. I do hope that he is able to achieve his goal of pitching this season. Who knows if he’ll ever be the pitcher we thought he would be, but we surely won’t know if he’s not pitching…
Well, the new baseball season is upon us. Best of luck to everyone and their respective teams. At this moment, we all have the chance for October glory. Well, not really, but the standing don’t know any differently. May the best team win!
Once you’ve failed Boston, come to New York…
Okay, I admit it. I am not overjoyed to see the Red Sox reunion on the Yankees roster. First, there was former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima, then reliever Manny Delcarmen, and now utility infielder Bill Hall. Of the three, Okajima is actually the only who’s last team was the Red Sox but still, the three have served their time in Beantown and are now “enemies” in a friendly camp.
If Okajima can win a job, that’s fine but I don’t really see him beating out Cesar Cabral unless the latter is a complete washout in camp. Delcarmen, in my mind, is simply fodder for the spring with no hope of seeing the major league roster come Opening Day. Hall is an interesting pickup. I am concerned because I want to see the return of backup third baseman Eric Chavez, who is the perfect as a substitute for Alex Rodriguez when A-Rod takes his usual spot on the DL. Indications are that the Yankees are still interested in Chavez despite the Hall signing and I hope so. Reports have also indicated that the Yankees are in deep conversation with Raul Ibanez. If both Hall and Ibanez are signed, is there room for Chavez? I really hope that Chavez is independent of the other decisions.
Nevertheless, even if the Yankees break camp with Okajima, Delcarmen and Hall, they are still inferior to what the Yankees could have had with long reliever/spot starter Alfredo Aceves. At the time the Yankees cut bait with Aceves, I thought it was a mistake. I realize that he had been hurt and subsequently suffered a setback that cost more time. But never once did I consider him to be the second coming of Carl Pavano. I thought that once he was healthy, he’d return to being the effective reliever he was prior to the injuries. Of course, that’s exactly what he did…only in a Red Sox uniform. That’s why I always hate to see ex-Yankees go to Boston. Sure, it would be fun to see Okajima, Delcarmen or Hall thrive in the Bronx, but I just don’t see it happening. I’d have to score this one as ‘Advantage, Red Sox’.
Swisher deserves compensation!…
I enjoyed seeing pitcher Jeremy Guthrie’s quote after being traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Colorado Rockies. He said the loser in the trade was Nick Swisher’s batting average. Hopefully, Swish can find a replacement pitcher to pick on!
$19 Million? Put it on the tab…
Good move by the Los Angeles Dodgers to lock up arbitration-eligible starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw for two years. It helps buy some time for the new ownership group to take control and do what’s right by ensuring Kershaw is a long-term fixture in Chavez Ravine. I am sure these are tenuous times for Donnie Baseball given the uncertainty regarding the ownership picture and the current financial constraints. But the Dodgers have done well in securing Matt Kemp and now setting up Kershaw for discussions on a longer-term deal under a time frame that will suit the new owners.
RBI, or IBRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR….
It’s hard to believe that we are just a few weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. The temps in Minnesota have dipped back into the 20’s with some sub-zero temperatures looming on the horizon. Target Field is looking a bit frigid to think the lights will once again be illuminated in two short months. Nevertheless, I am glad to see the return of the America’s Favorite Pastime. No offense to Eli Manning, but I’ll be glad when the “star of New York” is someone like CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano, or Curtis Granderson rather than Peyton’s little bro.
To act or not to act…
When is the beast (i.e., the YES Network) going to start screaming, “Feed Me!”…
Okay, okay, I know…the Yankees are a strong team with or without reinforcements. Maybe it is just the residual effect of having to depend upon Alex Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett.
Not unexpectedly, the Yankees failed to reach agreement with Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima. Early speculation had Nakajima returning to Japan for one more year since the Yankees wouldn’t afford him the opportunity to start. The Boston Red Sox seem like the natural fit given their need for someone with Nakajima’s talent and it doesn’t hurt that the manager can speak a little Japanese.
Just as they were not players for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, I don’t really expect the Yankees to pursue Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. If the Yankees didn’t have any promising prospects it would be one thing, but the organization really likes outfield prospect Mason Williams. It goes without saying that you can’t sustain a championship squad with $100 million players at every position. Primarily, it is cost prohibitive, but secondly, the players quickly become less productive than their compensation (i.e., A-Rod) and you’re unable to do anything about it. Good, cheap young talent is the way to sustain a championship squad. That’s why Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos should both get opportunities to pitch in Yankee Stadium at some point this season. If either could prove that he is major league ready, it would significantly strengthen the perceived weak starting rotation.
There are plenty of ‘what ifs’ with the Yankees this year, but IF Phil Hughes can show he is indeed the 18-win game winner we saw several years ago and not the notorious injury risk and IF A.J. Burnett could convert last season’s first half success into full season success, the rotation would be in great shape for supplementation by Betances and/or Banuelos.
Like many, I am anxious to see what Jesus Montero can do on a daily basis with his bat. I am grateful the Yankees didn’t move him. I know we’re not out of the woods yet, but if Montero starts hitting like we know he can, he’ll quickly become a fixed commodity in the Bronx.
My primary wish at this point is the return of backup third baseman Eric Chavez. Yes, I would be in favor of a trade for Matt Garza or Matt Cain, or the free agent signing of Edwin Jackson on a short term deal, but I really think that a solid, proven replacement option for A-Rod is essential. When A-Rod goes on the inevitable DL stint during the season, I don’t want to see his replacement with a guy that is fighting to stay above the Mendoza line. I want a guy that is capable of changing the game, and that’s Chavez. He might not be able to do it every day anymore, but he’s still a superior performer if used properly. So, Brian Cashman, please talk to your owner and get this deal done.
Money for nothing and the chicks for free…
I have to admit that I am impressed with what Cubs president Theo Epstein has done so far. To unload the pariah known as Carlos Zambrano and get a young, quality starting pitcher in Chris Volstad was genius. I know that Andrew Cashner was a heralded pitching prospect, but I really like the move to pick up former Red Sox prospect Anthony Rizzo from the San Diego Padres for first base. I used to think that Alfonso Soriano was untradeable, but now, if you told me that Theo had traded him for a quality return, I would believe you wholeheartedly. I kind of feel bad for Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. Regardless of what he does, Theo will always get credit. San Diego GM Josh Byrnes is probably saying ‘Thanks, Dude’ every night.
What do you want to be when you grow up?…
I was a bit surprised to see Joe Torre step down from his job with Major League Baseball. I am sure that the attraction of being a major league owner was very appealing, but it’s hardly a sure bet. But I guess that Joe’s made his money, and he decided to gamble for the job he wanted, knowing that worst case, he is set for the rest of his life. One thing’s for sure, if Joe’s ownership group is successful in buying the Dodgers, my longtime idol, Don Mattingly, is secure as Dodgers manager. So, all I can say is ‘Good luck, Joe!’.
When did Arte Moreno become smarter than a fifth grader?…
I’ve been surprised to hear that the contract Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels is so backloaded. To pay the best player in baseball $12 million to play in 2012 is clearly the best return on investment that I’ve seen in a very long time. Sure, in 8 years, the Angels will be paying $30 million for a past-his-prime first baseman, but by that time, he’ll have legendary records within his grasp, and will help fill seats, which of course, will pay his excess salary. GM Jerry DiPoto is too new to give him credit, but this was a genius move by the Angels and it shows that the Cardinals were never going to pay that kind of money.
What a surprise…
It’s funny that I used the word ‘surprised’ in the last two paragraphs. That’s not the case with the Yankees where the crickets still reign supreme…
I know, the Yankees signed former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima but I don’t really see him making the team if Cesar Cabral impresses in camp. Crickets, just crickets…